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Shangri La Partners with Google Cultural Institute

Guess what? We’ve partnered up with Google Cultural Institute (GCI) to offer virtual tours and high definition images of key objects from our collection. This exciting collaboration means that we have joined an online network consisting of over 1200 leading museums and archives from around the world! Very soon, millions of people can discover the unique heritage, history and collection of Shangri La and learn more about the global culture of Islamic art and design – anywhere and anytime.

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Capturing 360-degree images for Shangri La’s streetview virtual tour.

Last month, GCI sent a representative to create an immersive, 360-degree virtual tour of Shangri La using Google Street View technology and to photograph 38 essential objects from our collection with a Google Art Camera. The custom-built Google Art Camera can take “ultra-high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images.” That’s right – gigapixel images – that’s an image made up of over one billion pixels! At this resolution, viewers will be able to see the tiniest of details.

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Google Art Camera set up in the Playhouse to capture a 19th century Iranian tile panel fireplace surround.

The process of photographing an object, while time-consuming, is largely automated. Guides are set up around the object to set the parameters in between which the camera should photograph. Once the camera is set up, it proceeds with the photography process by taking multiple photographs of small sections of the object. Once the photography has finished, these multiple photographs are stitched together into a large composite image. The largest piece we included in this session (which measures 59” x 101”) took over 90 mins to photograph!

Our partnership with GCI joins our ongoing effort to digitize our collection. We’ve worked with both, eMuseum Network and ArtSTOR, to make digital records of over 500 objects searchable and viewable through their websites. We’ve also partnered with Museum with No Frontiers which thematically organizes objects from collections around the world. For example, they’ve created a virtual museum of Islamic art with objects from over 50 museum collections including ours. Together, these websites help us share our collection with the world.

This collaboration is an ongoing project so be sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates on our progress!

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The Google Art Camera!